Of course you do! Pit Bulls make great pets, and there’s a lot to love about this breed. But is the American Pit Bull Terrier really the right dog for you? Take a moment to answer these questions and findout!
Why Do You Want a Pit Bull?
Your reasons for being attracted to this breed can serve as valuableindicators of your suitability as a pit bull owner. Let’s look at acouple of good reasons for wanting a pit bull–and a couple of bad ones.
First,two good reasons:
“We’re looking for a dog who’ll begreat with the kids and bond closely with the whole family.”
“I’m the active outdoors type: running, hiking, rafting, camping–I do itall, and I want a canine companion who can keep up with me and who’llbe my best buddy.”
Provided the other prerequisites for pit bull ownership check out (keep reading), these folks should bevery happy with their choice: Few breeds bond as closely with theirhuman companions as pit bulls, and as the star athletes of the canineworld, pits can not only keep up with the most active of owners,they’ll have a blast doing it!
Now, let’s examine two–unfortunately not uncommon–bad reasons for wanting a pit bull:
“I need an intimidating dog to guard my property.”
“I’m a tough guy and I want a tough dog who won’t take crap from anyone.”
While pit bulls may indeed intimidate people (something those of us who lovethe breed are working hard to change), they do not make great guarddogs. The typical American Pit Bull Terrier is so fond of humans, he’slikely to greet an intruder as a potential new friend! Moreover, pitbulls crave human interaction and will be miserable if banished to theyard and ignored.
As for Mr. Tough Guy, if you are so insecure you feel you need a pit bull to advertise your “toughness”to the world, you would be better served seeking therapy than getting adog. Encouraging aggressive behavior and a short fuse in your dog is arecipe for disaster that could get both of you into serious trouble.
Unfortunately the consequences are likely to be far more severe foryour pit bull than for you.
Are you committed to training your pit bull?
All dogs need to learn at least basic commands and rudimentary manners, butdue to the current anti-pit bull hysteria, training is especiallyimportant for bully breeds. A Cocker Spaniel who jumps on people mayannoy them; a pit bull who does the same will terrify many people. As aresponsible pit bull owner it is incumbent on you to ensure that yourdog is well-behaved.
Are you prepared to spend 5-20 minutes a dayteaching your pit bull basic commands (e.g., sit, down, stay, come,off) and manners (e.g., walking on lead without pulling, not jumping onpeople or furniture unless expressly invited)?
Can you afford a pit bull?
Food, vet visits, spaying/neutering, licenses, heartworm prevention, flea control,crates, beds, leads, collars, bowls, car restraints, boarding kennels,grooming, training, treats, toys–it all adds up. First-year coststypically run between $800 and $2800, depending on how much stuff youneed and how fancy you want to get. And that doesn’t include the$50-200 it will cost you to adopt a pit bull from a shelter or the$500-1000+ a responsible breeder will charge you for a puppy. Expect topay $500-$2000 a year after the initial expenses. It’s also a good ideato have at least $1000 in savings in case of a medical emergency.
Are you able to provide a pit bull with sufficient exercise?
If your ideal way of spending a sunny weekend afternoon consists ofwatching the game on TV with a big bag of chips, you and the AmericanPit Bull Terrier probably won’t be a good match (though your dog maydisagree if you’re prepared to share those chips). Seriously though,with no outlet for that incredible pit bull energy, your companion islikely to become depressed or destructive. And no, a quick walk aroundthe block won’t cut it.
Your dog needs to run and romp, which may present a challenge if you live in an apartment or atownhome with a yard the size of a postage stamp. In that case you’llneed to take your pit bull somewhere he can run and playoff-lead–safely and legally, of course. If you can’t provide your dogwith a good run at least 1-2 times a day, you’re better off with a lessenergetic breed.
Will you have enough time for your pit bull?
Pit bulls are happiest when living indoors and tightly integrated into their human family.Expect to spend at least two hours of quality time with your AmericanPit Bull Terrier every day. That’s the bare minimum.
Is your yard securely fenced?
Leaving your pit bull in the yard when you’re not home is generally not a good idea.But even when you are home, an unsupervised pit bull can quickly escapeand get into trouble. With their high intelligence, unparalleledathletic ability, and relentless determination, pit bulls are masterescape artists, so a secure yard is a must.
Can you cope with hostility and prejudice against your pit bull?
Thanks to sensationalist media reports and the actions of irresponsibleowners, many people these days have a grossly distorted view of theAmerican Pit Bull Terrier. When you venture out in public with your pitbull, you are likely to encounter a range of reactions including fear,hostility, and curiosity. Your neighbors may also express concern whenyou bring home a pit bull, especially if they have small children ordogs.
Some people have strong feelings not justabout pit bulls, but also about the type of individual (you!) who wouldown such a “vicious dog.” If you’re a young man–particularly if you’rea young African-American or Latino man–people may even assume you’re adrug dealer or gang member when you’re out and about with your caninecompanion.
The best way to deal with people’s misconceptions and prejudices is not to validate them. A friendly,responsible owner with a happy, properly socialized, and well-behavedpit bull does more to change minds and rehabilitate our breed’s imagethan articles or statistics ever could.
Are there any laws prohibiting pit bull ownership in your area?
Before you bring home your pit bull puppy or adult, make sure there is no breed-specific legislation banning pit bull ownership where you live. Keep in mindthat BSL isn’t limited to state, county, and city ordinances; if yourhouse is in a subdivision, carefully check the rules ®ulations for anti-pit bull provisions.
So, how did you do? Do you have what it takes to be a responsible pit bullowner?
Unfortunately pit bulls are abandoned in droves because many people underestimate the cost of ownership and thebreed’s exercise, time, security, training, and companionship needs.
Please don’t be one of those people.
There’s nothing wrong with waitinga year or two until you are better situated before bringing home yournew canine companion. In the end, the wait will be well worth it.Because if you have the time, energy, and patience to give this breed agood home, you’ll find no happier, more loving, or more devotedcompanion than the American Pit Bull Terrier.
And as always, consider adoption from a rescue shelter.